As we say in Italy, "L'Epifania tutte le feste porta via" (Epiphany marks the end of the Holiday season). As a child, I heard many versions of the tale concerning "La Befana", the "Witch" who flies on a broom on the night between the 5th and the 6th of January to bring candies to the good children and coal to the bad ones.
In the story I recall the most, the three kings, on their way to visit baby Jesus, stopped by a small home in the middle of the night. A woman welcomed them and gave them food, something to drink and a place to rest while the three kings talked about a new king who had just come to life -A king so special, he would change the lives of many. To thank her for the hospitality, the three kings offered the woman to join them on their journey to meet baby Jesus. The woman thanked them, but replied that she was too busy to join them.
Time and time again, the three kings tried to convince her. Every time, the answer was the same: "I have too much work to do in the house." Discouraged, the three kings departed.
Their shapes slowly shrank at the horizon, while the woman swooped the entrance of her home with a broom. Once done with her checklist of things to do, the woman stopped and started thinking about the Three Kings and their unique story. She realized that maybe all the things she still had to do could wait just a little bit and that she should have joined the three kings.
She wasn't wealthy and she had nothing to give, but maybe the little baby would enjoy a few sweets she had just made! The woman went out in search of the three kings. But it was too late. Today she is still leaving treats to little children around the world, hoping that one of them is baby Jesus.
Many years have passed since I was a child. Only when I started celebrating the Epifania with my own children I realized that the story hides an important message that goes beyond the religious one. Our days are constantly busy. We have checklists for everything: work, love life, wealth; even paths to happiness. And while we work on our checklists, we miss all the important things happening around us.
Our family dynamics, the growth of our children, the colors of Mother Nature, the smell of food, the sound of silence … Yes, even my little dog trying to get attention!
As the Holiday Season comes to an end, I commit to spend less time in checking my lists and spending more time in listening, observing, talking to people, following up and yes, working on my manuscript for Book II, now so long overdue!
Happy New Year!
P.S. Gerard would like to remove the Presepe (Nativity Scene) this weekend but I think I'll keep it until Valentine's Day... It warms up the house!